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Class VI - social: Contact with Distant Lands
One Word Answer Questions:
Q) Name the route which connected the Xian in China with the Mediterranean Sea?
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Q) A blend of Greek and Indian styles is known as?
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Q) Who wrote Buddhacharita?
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Q) Who introduced the Satrap system of government?
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Q) The complete copies of Buddhist scripture is known as?
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Short Answer Questions:
Q) Who were the Indo-Greek rulers? Where did they come from?
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Q) Name the books written by Asvagosha?
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Q) What is Silk Route? Why is it called so?
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Q) Who were the Kushans? Under whose reign they attain maximum power?
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Q) Explain about the Parthians?
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Long Answer Questions:
Q) Explain the impact of Bactrian Greeks on the Mauryan dynasty?
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Q) Explain about Kanishka's empire?
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Q) Describe the different ways in which distant lands can interact?
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Q) Describe the pattern of trade seen in South India between 100 BC and 200 AD?
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Q) Explain the contribution of Silk Route in the spread of Buddhism?
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Contacts with Distant Lands

India has a long history of interaction with other countries through trade, migration, religion and conquest.

  • Interaction through trade-

    The flourishing trade that existed between people of the Indus Valley civilisation and Mesopotamia, and between the Tamils and Greece, Rome and the countries of South-East Asia.
  • Interaction through migration-

    The migration of the Aryans into India and the far-reaching impact they had on Indian society and culture.
  • Contact through religion-

    The spread of Buddhism from India to Central Asia, East Asia and South-East Asia.
  • Contact through conquest-

    The conquest of north-west India by tribes from Central Asia like the Sakas and Kushanas.
Contact through Trade
  • This contact declined during the early Vedic period, as the people only traded between local villages through barter.
  • However, by 200 BC, with the rise of towns and cities, India had re-established trade contacts with several regions like China, the Arab countries and Rome.
  • Southern India that benefited from expanded economic and cultural contacts with West Asia, South-East Asia and the Roman Empire.
  • Trade soon made the southern kingdoms the most prosperous part of India.
  • Traders from various parts of the country came here with their wares.
  • The main items of import were horses, wine, silk, ceramic, lead, glass, gold and perfumes. Horses were brought by ship from Arab lands.
Contact with Distant Lands
Trade Roots of india
Contacts with Greeks and Romans
  • The Greeks and Romans also had close trade links with the western coast of India.
  • Musiri was an important trading centre.
  • The end of the Roman Empire in the 4th to 5th centuries AD, the trade links of the Cholas and the Pandyas with the West were reduced.
  • Indians imported tin, lead, gold, glass, copper and sweet wine from the Roman Empire.
  • Arikamedu, near Puducherry, was an important centre of trade with Rome.
  • Roman coins, pottery and other articles have been found at Puhar, Kanchipuram and Madurai too.
Contact with Distant Lands
Roman Coins Found in Tamilnadu, India
Contact with Distant Lands
Roman Pottery found in Tamilnadu, India

Contacts with South-East Asia
  • India had a well-developed system of trade with the countries of South-East Asia.
  • Traders from Sri Lanka brought their goods to India to sell them to Greek and Roman merchants.
  • The Tamils introduced their culture in some of the places they had under their control like Sumatra, Java and Bali.
  • RajarajaChola is believed to have allowed the construction of a vihara by the king of Malaya at the Tamil port of Nagapattinam.
Contact with Distant Lands
Rajaraja Chola the great Chola King
The Silk Route
  • The Silk Route is one of the oldest and most important series of trade routes in the world.
  • The Silk Route was established around the 1st century BC by the Chinese emperor to reach the markets of India, and the West.
  • This trade route was named because silk was the most important commodity traded along this route for a long time.
  • Silk is believed to have been discovered in China around 2700 BC.
  • Chinese silk was in great demand around the world, especially in Rome.
  • The Silk Route had two main branches - the northern route and the southern route.
  • The southern route ran through northern India, across Khorasan in Central Asia and Mesopotamia to the Mediterranean Sea.
  • The northern route ran north of the Tibetian Plateau through Russia to the Black Sea, and then to the Mediterranean Sea.
  • Pilgrims, monks, traders, soldiers travelled along this route.
Contact with Distant Lands
Silk Route
Contact with Distant Lands
Caravan on Silk Route
Conquerors from Distant Lands
  • The last Mauryan ruler was overthrown by PushyamitraSunga in 185 BC.
  • He established the Sunga dynasty in the east.
  • In the Deccan the Kanwas and in Central India the Satavahanas, established their authority.
  • At this time north-western India was conquered by a number ruling dynasties from Central Asia.
Contact with Distant Lands
Pushyamitra Sunga
Contact with Distant Lands
Satvahana Empire
The Indo-Greeks or the Bactrian Greeks
  • Parthia (Khorasan and the adjoining region to the south-east of the Caspian Sea) and Bactrian (the region around Balkh in northern Afghanistan) were two districts of Iran that were under the Greeks.
  • The Bactrian Greeks used the weakness of the collapsing Mauryan Empire to their advantage and expanded into India.
  • The most renowned Indo-Greek ruler was Manender (165-145 BC), who conquered territories up to Pataliputra.
  • He was influenced by the teaching of Buddha and became a patron of Buddhism.
  • The Indo-Greek rulers were the earliest to issue gold coins in India.
  • This became a common custom among succeeding rulers over the centuries.
  • The introduction of a new school of art in the north-western part of India was another significant contribution of Greek rule.
  • A blend of Greek and Indian styles of art - which was popularly known as the Gandhara style.
Contact with Distant Lands
Gandhara Art - A blend of Indian and Greek Style
Contact with Distant Lands
Silver Coin of Manender
The Sakas
  • The Sakasestablished their rule over different parts of India.
  • There were five branches of the Sakas, of which the branch that consolidated its power and ruled over a large territory was the one that ruled over western India.
  • The Sakas introduced the satrap system of government.
  • The empire was divided into numerous provinces or satrapies, each under a satrap.
  • Rudradaman was the most famous Saka king and he was a great patron of Sanskrit.
  • There are many Sanskrit works belonging to this period. Asvaghosha wrote the Buddhacharita.
Contact with Distant Lands
Buddhacharita wrote by Asvaghosha
Contact with Distant Lands
Saka Ruler Rudradaman
The Parthians
  • In the 1st century AD the Parthians moved to India and occupied a small portion at the north-west of the Indian subcontinent.
  • Their most renowned king was Gondophernes, in whose reign Saint Thomas the Apostle is believed to have come to India to spread the teachings of Jesus Christ.
Contact with Distant Lands
The Saint Apostle
Contact with Distant Lands
Parthians Army
The Kushanas
  • The Kushanas were a tribe from the steppes of Central Asia.
  • Predominantly nomadic, the Kushanas migrated to India and gradually occupied parts of Iran, Afghanistan and north-western India.
  • The power of the Kushanas reached its zenith under Kanishka(AD 120-144).
  • Kanishka's empire touched the borders of all the great civilisations of the time.
  • The Kushanas exchanged embassies with the Chinese as well as the Romans.
  • Purushapura was Kanishka's capital.
  • He issued numerous gold coins, which can be found even as far east as Mathura and Banaras.
  • Kanishka is believed to have created a calendar which came to be known as the Sakas calendar.
  • The Saka Era starts counting years from AD 78. The Saka calendar is the one officially followed by the Indian government today.
  • Kanishka was also known for the patronage he extended to Mahayana Buddhism.
  • After ruling for over 200 years, from the middle of the 1st century AD to the 3rd century AD, the Kushana Empire collapsed.
Contact with Distant Lands
Headless statue of kanishka
Contact with Distant Lands
Coin issued by Kanishka
Contact with Distant Lands
The Impact of the Sakas and the Kushanas
  • The growth of close contacts between Central Asia and India was led to the coming of the Sakas and Kushanas.
  • The Sakas and the Kushanas introduced new style of dressing.
  • Turbans, tunics, trousers and heavy long coats were popularised by them.
The Spread of Buddhism to Central Asia
  • Buddhism spread through trade to Central Asia, South-East Asia and East Asia.
  • Buddhism also spread by Indian traders as they travelled along the Silk Route.
  • In the 1st century AD Kanishka was exposed to the teachings of Buddhism.
  • He became a staunch follower of Buddhism.
  • Kanishka held the last Buddhist Council at Kundalavana in Kashmir.
  • Kanishka's capitals at Kapisa and Peshawar became great centres of Buddhiist learning.
  • Travelling along the Silk Route, by the 1st century AD, Buddhism had also reached China.
  • Emperor Ming (AD 58-75) of the Han Dynasty may have been one of the first Chinese Emperors to be interested in Buddhism.
  • Between AD 399 and 412, the Chinese Buddhist traveller FaHien visited India. He came in search of complete copies of the Buddhist scripture, the VinayaPitaka.
  • On his return to China, he spent the rest of his life translating the scriptures.
  • Buddhism became one of the main religions of China during the 7th and 8th centuries AD.
Contact with Distant Lands
Peshwarthe capital of Kanishka
Contact with Distant Lands
Buddhist scripture VinayaPitaka
Contact with Distant Lands
Chinese Buddhist traveller Fa Hein
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